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Monday, August 10, 2015

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for early August

hummus on homemade pita bread triangles
*Mediterranean cucumber-tomato-rice salad
*blackberry-rhubarb pie

*pasta salad with pesto dressing
*Romano beans sauteed in bacon fat
carrot sticks
*leftover blackberry-rhubarb pie

Spanish rice and black beans
*sauteed garden beans and summer squash in sausage fat
*homemade blackberry-cheesecake ice cream

*open-faced burritos (the tortillas came out stiffer than usual), with refried beans, leftover Spanish rice, homemade yogurt, green onions, cilantro
oven-roasted, canned tomatoes
*leftover blackberry-cheesecake ice cream, with homemade "magic shell"

*chicken-pasta salad, with baked garlic chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, leftover oven-roasted canned tomatoes, cooked green beans, garden carrot (first one!), Parmesan cheese, black olives and pasta
French bread
*blackberry cobbler topped with leftover blackberry ice cream

*leftovers soup -- basically I cleaned out the fridge and supplemented with garden veggies, combining leftover baked chicken, black beans, canned tomato juices, canned tomatoes, garden squash, waxed beans, Swiss chard, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder
French bread
*blackberry-rhubarb pie

barbequed pork sliders on homemade buns
*Romano beans sauteed in bacon fat
*fruit cup, using 1 ripe fig from garden (woo hoo -- a ripe fig!), free banana and some blackberries
*leftover blackberry pie*

homemade pork and beans
brown rice, cooked in chicken stock
*oven-roasted root veggies (beets, shallots, new potatoes, carrots -- all from garden)
*fresh blackberries
chocolate-dipped frozen bananas

away in Poulsbo until after 8 PM, so when we walked in the door, we made pbj's. Not exciting, but it did the job!

fried fish (cod fillets), with homemade tartar sauce
cheddar-bay biscuits
*green beans
*fresh blackberries

*indicates some items from each dish came from the garden

We've had fresh, wild blackberries with all but 3 of the last 17 dinners. That's a lot of blackberries!

I opened the very last #10 can of whole, peeled tomatoes last week, from my stock-up purchase last fall. I guessed the very amount that I needed for the year on the whole tomatoes. On the canned tomato paste, I overestimated how much we would use in one year by a full case (6 of the #10 cans). Whole, canned tomatoes went on sale this week at Cash & Carry, so I bought 3 cases, to get through 1 year. We really enjoy them oven-roasted. Probably one of the best canned veggie side dishes that I make.

At this point, almost all of our produce is coming from the garden or the wild. I am down to 1 lemon in the fridge, and a pound of corn in the freezer, some canned pumpkin and the canned tomato products, for purchased produce items. Not needing to buy fruits and veggies frees up a lot of our grocery money for stocking up on pantry items, right now.


  1. Good morning, Lili!

    Your meals look and sound rather healthy! We have had a lot of produce from Dad's garden on Saturday. I was going to pick beans "for a meal" but when we started picking we quickly realized all the rows needed to be picked so we set out for the task. We then moved into harvesting a few carrots, cabbage, new potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and then we needed to quit so we could wash carrots, snip bean ends, shred cabbage for cole slaw and then we were both pretty tired!

    We had an awesome lunch on Sunday with many choices from the garden! I froze the rest of the beans, gave away some to my neighbors as instructed by my dad. Processing produce takes a fair amount of time also so my night wasn't done until quite late.

    A question about whole canned tomatoes. What is a good price and what size? I think last fall I got a bigger can and I'm thinking it was something like 79 cents or something. I am also going to buy cans of whole tomatoes without any seasonings like garlic, or basil since we like the ones without stuff in them the best. I don't think Dad has enough tomatoes for me to can or freeze and they do taste really good from a can.

    My son came home from work last week with four big bags full of cereal that was going to be thrown away. It was the last day of dining hall services for the next two weeks and the cereal couldn't be kept that long so instead of throwing it away they let him take it home. That covers cereal for the rest of the summer!

    Hubby went to the dentist on Friday and came home with a bill of $400 so there goes to budget for the rest of the month! He also had a vehicle repair last week that was around $500 so I told everyone only necessary purchases for the next couple of months!


    1. Hi Alice,
      It sounds like you were able to get quite a lot from your dad's garden over the weekend. That must be a real help! But you're right, it all takes work. I begin to look forward to winter meals, when I can use frozen veggies, and not have to harvest, wash, and trim everything, just dump it in the pot.

      I am so sorry for your sudden big bills. Those can really throw you for a loop, and it always seems to happen this way that they coe in multiples.

      As for canned tomatoes, I buy them in the #10 cans, which are about 110 oz each. I pay about $2.47 for each of those cans, which is equivalent to about 33-35 cents for a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes. For me, that's a good price and one that I'll stock up on. Your 79 cents larger can sounds like something around the same price point, maybe a few cents more, but still pretty close, considering it's in that size can (I'm guessing it's about a 29 oz can?). I buy unseasoned tomatoes, so that we can customize the flavor however we wish.

      What a score on the cereal! I'm sure you will all enjoy that. You can scratch "what to have for breakfast" off your list for the next couple of weeks!

      Have a great day!

  2. Your meals are so creative! I feel that is one of my weaknesses with meal planning/frugality, but am trying to read books and blogs to give me new ideas outside the box. Thanks for sharing a bit about what is coming from the garden. So awesome that it is quite a bit! Our summer garden is about finished. The triple digit temps seem to do it in each year. But we have some chard still producing and last week I planted a fall green bean and potato crop, and will be starting more and various greens inside this week to set out in September.

    1. Hi Cat,
      In addition to looking through cookbooks, blogs, etc, I also pay attention to restaurant menus and the things my son tells me he sometimes gets for his lunch at work. Whenever I'm in a town on foot, as I walk past restaurants, I always check out their menus. I'm just interested in seeing what is offered. At one place, a couple of years ago, we saw a menu item for rosemary-bean soup. It peaked my interest, so I read more on the description and made a mental note of what went into it. Last night, I finally got a chance to make something similar. It was very good, and I'll replicate it again. Otherwise, most of the time, I'm just throwing stuff together, trying to make it all seem like it goes together.

      I'm so glad that you can plant for a fall garden where you are. Those greens, beans and potatoes will be very welcome, come fall, I'm sure! Triple digits for more than a day would be too much for me. I hope you are staying cool somehow!

      Have a great day, Cat!

    2. Great idea on looking menus, thanks! We have also been watching the show Chopped on Netflix. I am feeling like it really does inspire some creativity, plus my kids are loving it for some reason, even my 5 YO son. He was playing Chopped the other day and we were getting tickled hearing him name some crazy ingredients.

  3. Hi, Lili--

    Hope the adventure was wonderful!

    Your comments about all those blackberries reminded me of summers at my grandmother's cabin. When blueberries were in season, we used to have muffins, pies, and extra blueberries on our cereal every morning. Anytime we went to town during corn season, we'd split a baker's dozen of corn between the five of us. Farmer friends nearby often shared their extras with us, too; and since we didn't have refrigeration and weren't really equipped to can a lot (when you bring the water in buckets from a spring up the hill and heat it on the woodstove, you only can the stuff you REALLY want to can!), our best option was to eat everything while it was fresh.

    We never really got tired of any of it, and it always seemed normal to enjoy what was fresh when it was fresh. Besides, when you've been out picking things, when you get back you're both tired and hungry and ready to enjoy the (literal) fruits of your labor. :)

    We don't have anything fresh here this year, due to drought, etc., but our good stock of canned food is coming in handy during a cashflow glitch we're having. We're definitely improvising, adapting, and overcoming, and a lot of the meals are pretty darned tasty! I'm so glad that we're people who are creative and reasonable. It must be hard for people who are very picky and can't figure out good ways to make do with whatever they have!

    Best to everybody! Sara :D

    1. Hi Sara,
      What wonderful memories you have of your grandmother's cabin! I think I prefer just eating produce fresh, instead of canning a lot of it. I'm glad to have the luxury to buy some veggies in winter, so as not to have to can or freeze everything we might need. In your grandmother's case, having to haul the water for canning would be such a chore!

      How fortunate to have a pantry full of canned goods, to tide you over for a bit. And you're so creative that I'm certain your meals are very delicious and well-received!

      Have a wonderful day, Sara!

  4. At first I was thinking you were on an international kick for your meals, but your later-in-the-week options were pretty all-American. :) All of it sounds yummy (including PB&J, which I love ... especially w/my hubby's homemade cherry jam).

    Our church has an "extra blessings" table at this time of the year. One of the men who contributes a lot of items knows that my daughter loves his plums--he has sought me out 2 weeks in a row to tell me he brought them. They have been a tasty supplement to the blueberries (which we have in abundance right now). We've had a couple of zucchini from our garden so we are enjoying veggies in bread form! Ha! We took some plums and a yellow squash from Extra Blessings with us on our camping trip--I love quick and easy options (with minimal dishwashing!) when we camp so those were great.

    We are having a bad tomato year. My husband thinks we might have been sold diseased tomato plants--plus, until a couple of weeks ago, it's been a cooler than usual summer, so maybe we'll have tomatoes in October???

    It would be fun to hear about your little trip. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I had to look back up at what we ate, to see what sounded international! Ha Ha! I guess we did have a couple of int'l type meals.

      Yum, I love cherry jam, especially if made with tart cherries. I just have sweet cherry trees, so I make sweet cherry preserves. Still good, but the tart is my favorite.

      What a great idea -- the extra blessings table. In late summer/early fall, its common for a church member to bring in a box of extra fruit from home orchards. I've had a couple of Asian pears that way. I might not buy them otherwise.

      Quick and easy veggies are one of my favorite parts of summer cooking. Minimal fuss, but everything tastes so heavenly when fresh. I hope you and your family had a wonderful camping trip!

      Oh no -- I do hope you get some tomatoes by October! We've had years like that, here. It's such a disappointment, but there will be something else that fills that gap, maybe more greens or beets.

      Have a lovely day, Kris! Is school just around the corner for your kids?

  5. Hi Lili,
    Your meals sound yummy! That is great you get so much from your garden.
    We can't have an actual garden where we live as we have a homeowners association, but hubby tore all the things out of one of our flower beds a few years back so we can do a bit there. We have a tomato plant, cherry tomato plant & a pepper plant. I grew up in the country so I need to grow at least a few things. We go to the farmers market to pick up the home grown things like zucchini, beans, cukes & corn. It is pricey but so much better than the grocery store produce.

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      You do what you can, and those tomatoes and peppers will taste extra special because they came from your yard. And it sounds like you've come up with a good compromise, with trips to the farmer's market to fill in what you might have grown yourself. Grocery store produce lacks the fresh, crispness of homegrown, or farm stand.

      Have a great day, Rhonda!

  6. Another week, another set of delicious, healthful, sounding meals. :)

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Thank you. I'm guessing that you've been filling up on Uncle Billy's garden produce this summer. How very fortunate to have a family member who not only gardens, but does such a good job of it! And has more than they can consume themselves!

      Have a lovely day!

  7. Balanced set of meals and all seemed like it took hours of preparation!!

    As I read your post, I thought of your previous comment that your role is to make sure every dollar earned would be spent wisely and sparingly (did I recall correctly?) I had visions not of a happy homemaker so much as a happy breadwinner. It must be comforting for your husband to know that his efforts are being appreciated and not squandered. And quite the opposite is true of husbands or wives who work so hard only to see their entire paychecks going to pay past debts...must be a stressful, sinking feeling.

    Great job...and amazing the variety of far I don't recall a duplicate meal anywhere.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Thank you.
      I've always looked at our income, as "our" income, in the sense that I need to be accountable just as much as if the paycheck was written out in my name. We're both breadwinners. It's just that he gets the recognition for his work from an employer and I don't.

      I do cycle through some standard dinners, like rice and beans or frittatas. Both of those seem to pop up frequently, but a lot of the time, I'm just trying to make ingredients "go together". I think if I shopped weekly for groceries, I would tend to buy the same things week after week, and then there would be lots more repetition in our meals.

      Have a wonderful day, YHF!


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